I compose my first list
while Jesus is who knows where;
I hear there were goings-on through the night,
that it doesn’t look good.
While his poor mother lingers,
exhausted at outer doorways,
I put on paper a line of tasks that will
march me through preparations for Sunday.
The menu, then chilly grocery aisles, while
his disciples try to blend in with other shoppers,
earphones attached as if to follow a basketball game.
They frantically tune in and out of newscasts
because they couldn’t stay with him, just couldn’t.
As I sort the mail
they lash him to a post
--gas bill, magazine offers—
soon blood runs everywhere, and short
devastations quiver from slashed bend of his back,
the red of his mouth.
I try to unclutter the foyer—where did these stray
boxes come from? And the rug keeps
going crooked, like his steps
when they finish with him.
I need a yeast bread sweet yet understated,
will improvise as usual.
And they haul him now, to face the crowd.
Pilate fumes that this has landed with him.
The three-bean salad I can make early,
the cake, too, and the bread.
The people, as one, make their choice,
which you think would be a no-brainer,
but as I put away cleaning supplies I must
stop for the noise, the immensity of hatred—
it’s mystifying how abruptly they turned on him—
and I am weak, drained of all goodness
because I should have been there, should not have
trusted that things would work themselves out,
but they’re taking him now to where
the tools are kept, and I finish what I’m doing
because what else can I do?
The crowd thunders through my rooms,
rattling cake pans and paring knives.
I work away, looking up just once
to gaze at the point of their passion.
Of all things, mercy glitters in his eyes
when he drags the cross through my living room
and out the back door. My bread is rising;
something in all of this must fill with lightness—
we cannot abandon nourishment at the worst moment.
By the time they hang him up,
my back is killing me. I do not eat but
take a sip of wine at precisely the moment
they touch vinegar to his lips.
Then the ruddy sky thickens to black.
My house smells of food, and the corners
are swept clean. I rest and watch television,
tucked up where it’s warm and un-chaotic,
I feel him resting, too, unbreathing in a silent cave.
He and I made it through the day,
bore tedium and the ragged walk of hours,
for the sake of what will happen
before the leftovers are gone.
Copyright © 2005 Vinita Hampton Wright